It may be New Age wisdom’s finest hour. At some point during NBC’s Saturday Night Live, a mellifluous-voiced Phil Hartman announces ”Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey.” Those words then appear in cursive across the screen accompanied by a syrupy photo of a sylvan scene and a voice-over (by Handey) with a message to match: If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is ”God is crying.” And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is ”Probably because of something you did.” Ninety-two of these wacked-out ponderings are now saved for posterity in the paperback Deep Thoughts.
”The first thing I discovered when these started airing,” says SNL writer Handey, ”is that everyone thought my name was a joke.” But there really is a Jack Handey, and those wifty cogitations — It takes a big man to cry, but it takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man — are the result of his spending long hours bouncing a lacrosse ball against his bedroom ceiling.
Just what qualifies as a deep thought? ”It’s kind of ideas from a person who doesn’t have his faculties too well intact, but thinks he’s making perfect sense,” says Handey, who began committing these satirical gems to paper when he was a reporter in that haven of New Age wisdom, Santa Fe, N.M. In 1978 Handey left the newspaper business to write comedy full-time, helping his old New Mexico neighbor, Steve Martin, write two TV specials. An SNL staff writer for six seasons, Handey, 43, is also responsible for such favorites as ”Toonces, the Cat Who Could Drive a Car” and the ”All-Drug Olympics.” The El Paso native lives in a Manhattan brownstone with his homemaker wife, Marta, and their cats Spunky, Mickey, and a third celebrity meower whose name viewers considered a joke as well. Yes, Handey fans, there really is a Toonces.